The local schools were on a two hour delay this morning and then closed due to weather. Good thing because now I can get my homework done instead of trying to finish it up during homeroom. Each and every week without a major wrestling PPV (which means not this weekend) the fine hosts of the At Odds with Wrestling podcast alternate homework assignments to each other. This week we watched WCW Monday Nitro from January 31, 2000 because co-host Adam was live in attendance. This takes place during a chaotic era for WCW and we know looking back that the end was nigh. Let’s look at what was happening for the two hours of this show and how we feel about these booking choices over 20 years later.
Highlights of Sid Vicious winning the WCW World title on Thunder. On Thunder?! I feel like I remember Thunder was meant to be equal to Nitro when it first launched and not the B and C team show that we remember.
Jeff Jarrett, Scott Hall, and the Harris Brothers – the current version of the nWo – are on the phone with acting commissioner Kevin Nash “earlier today”.
The new nWo are on their way to the ring. Tony Schiavonnie, Mike Tenay, and the debuting Mark Madden are the announce team for the evening. nWo comes out with Tylene Buck, Midajah, April Hunter, and one more woman I don’t recognize. Due to Nash’s absence he has named Jarrett as acting commissioner for the evening. Ron and Don Harris are officially named as members of the nWo. Scott Steiner makes all the ladies remove their shirts to show off their talents. Jarrett announces that he will take on Sid for the WCW World title at the next PPV. Jarrett also makes a six man tag team match for later this evening in which he will pick Sid’s partners. JJ lets the wrestlers know if they want something tonight he as acting commissioner will take bribes.
The commentators run down some of tonight’s matches. Sid arrives at the building. A limo pulls up and Ric Flair gets out.
This is a giant waste of time and filler. It goes on way too long. It is also a far drop from what the nWo used to be. The original nWo took over. This group couldn’t take over the Power Plant.
J Biggs or whatever his name is, Stevie Ray, and Big T arrive. Arn Anderson talks to Terry Funk. Funk is looking for Flair. Arn doesn’t care. More on these angles later.
Lash LeRoux vs Evan Karagias (with the rest of 3 Count) in a Cruiserweight Title Tournament match.
Lash attacks before 3 Count gets a note out. Madden says he would go to a 3 Count concert because there would be lots of teenage girls there. Wow. Day one and he’s already trying to copy the color commentator on the other Monday night show. Lot of guys out of place in this match. Evan has to push the other two members of 3 Count forward on the floor so they catch Lash coming over the top. Lasth hits Whiplash 2000, something like a cutter with a Russian leg sweep for the win. Not a bad rookie match but not too polished for the big time.
The nWo is in what passes for their locker room and complaining that they want better food.
Mean Gene interviews David Flair, Crowbar, and Daffney. Crowbar cuts a real fun promo. Daffney would have made a great Harley Quinn if Harley was as big then as she is now. The Mamalukes (tag team champions) jump on them and a tag match begins in the back. It’s a Bensonhurst Street Fight tag team match. The two teams fight outside in the show. They come back into the arena and brawl to the ring. Disco Inferno, manager of the Mamalukes, joins for commentary. Miss Hancock comes out to take notes on both teams. It’s actually a fun fight. Disco jumps in the ring and knocks Crowbar off the top rope. Big Vito puts Crowbar through a table for the pin.
In the back, Booker T and Midnight are walking. Brian Knobbs wants Finlay tonight and bribes Jeff Jarrett to get in the ring with Finlay. Knobbs says he wants Finlay gone from WCW. Again, more on these angles later.
Booker T (not with Midnight) comes out for some reason. Was he supposed to have a match? Biggs comes out and says that everything about Booker is the trademark of Harlem Heat, not of Booker T. There goes his music, the fire and flames, the letter T. Big T keeps cranking middle fingers at the fans. Some new and terrible music plays for Booker. Biggs keeps running his mouth, Stevie wasn’t bad on the mic, and Big T should never talk. Midnight finally comes out – where has she been all this time? She throws Biggs into the ring. Booker beats up Biggs. Stevie Ray and Big T come back out to save Biggs. Big T jumps Midnight. The new Harlem Heat beat up Booker.
I have no problem with the story where the hero has everything stripped away and has to build back up. However, it’s a much better angle when fans can care about the antagonist and the stakes. Losing a letter to a washed up Ahmed Johnson is not going to sell a single ticket. Somewhere in WCW there should have been a better foil for Booker at this time. This angle doesn’t get any better with the letter T, the return of GI Bro, and this misguided attempt to spin Booker as a singles star. Which he eventually came but not through this angle.
Norman Smiley shows up. 3 Count tries to attack him. He screams and runs away. I honestly thought Norman was the WCW Hardcore champion at the time because that would give 3 Count a reason to go after him. Instead, they were just in a mood following the earlier loss and took that anger out on Norman.
Jarrett talks to Finlay. JJ says he told Knobbs he can be in the ring with Finlay tonight but never says how. JJ makes Finlay the referee. Knobbs flips out. What is the animosity between Knobbs and Jarrett? Was Knobbs a face at the time? Is it just an nWo versus everyone thing? Was Finlay a heel? Is Jarrett just a chaos god akin to Loki or Anansi? That question might not get answered tonight.
Back to Norman running away from 3 Count. He turns a corner and hides inside of something. It’s the coffin for the KISS Demon. Norman screams again as the chamber closes. Is Norman closing it himself? Or is the coffin sentient?
Kidman (with Torrie Wilson) vs The Wall.
This match is 90% the Wall. Torrie distracts the referee. Vampiro comes out and kicks the Wall off of the top rope. Kidman takes advantage of this and gets 10% of the match resulting in the pinfall win.
Ric Flair is walking in the back. The nWo locker room are discussing who will be Sid’s tag team partners.
Mean Gene in the ring and he brings out Ric Flair. Flair is 50 years old here. Crazy. I’m sure he won’t still be wrestling over 20 years from now. Flair says he’s a future governor? I had forgotten about this but Flair teased running for North Carolina in the late 90s. Pre social media and digging things up on everyone, who knows. Flair says WCW has asked him to be commissioner. Wait, what? Then what is Nash? Furthermore, what is Jarrett tonight? Flair says first he has to clear things up with Terry Funk. Wasn’t Funk a commissioner for a while there too? Okay, according to Wikipedia, Funk was just commissioner, Nash is now, Flair never was, and then it gets even more confusing and meaningless. Flair calls out Funk. Lots of good jabs at each other. They mention Mick Foley too much for someone who hasn’t worked there in quite a while. Funk comes in, Flair mocks his “Living Legend” shirt, and the two have a slow fight. Security eventually separates them. This goes on way too long. Lots of filler on this episode. How was that live?
Back in the nWo locker room for no reason. We see clips of Sting’s new movie Shudderspeed also starring Daisy Fuentes. The graphic does say Shudderspeed. Yet IMDB and the correct spelling are Shutterspeed. Shudder isn’t a bad word play though. Back to Daisy. Oh wow, remember her? On my upcoming Retro Babes podcast we’ll dedicate an episode to her. Kidding or not kidding? Stay tuned.
Miss Hancock is arguing with Lenny and Lodi. Holy crap I forgot these two existed. They don’t want to wear suits anymore so they slam down the suits – on hangers but no bags – and walk off. Speaking of walking, we see the Total Package and Elizabeth walking. I’m guessing she lost the “Miss” when she and Macho got married. When and why did Lex become the Total Package first and Lex Luger second? Copyright?
Total Package (with Elizabeth) vs Brian Knobbs (WCW Hardcore champion). Fit Finlay is the special referee.
This is when I realized that Norman is not the Hardcore champion and I started questioning the earlier conflict. Knobbs looks like he’s cosplaying as Bully Ray. Or is Ray cosplaying as Knobbs? The snake eats its own tail. Finlay clobbers Knobbs from behind. Package takes advantage and hits Brian with a forearm. Knobbs regains some control. Knobbs is on the ropes but Finlay blocks him from coming off. Elizabeth hits Knobbs with a bat to knock him off. Finlay leaves. Lex Pillman-izes Knobbs’s wrist and arm. I am so confused over who is meant to be heel or face here. Does everyone just hate Knobbs? In an episode and an era full of questions this is the one bothering me the most.
In the back Norman Smiley emerges from his cocoon as the KISS Demon. He looks awesome too.
Back from break and the actual KISS Demon is getting the cops involved because his gear has been stolen. Everything about this is wrong. Both men are wrestlers at the same show which is being recorded. Don’t get the cops, go kick some ass. Also, is the coffin sentient or did Norman get dressed and do the facepaint all on his own? I would be more interested in a supernatural take. The wand chooses the wizard and the coffin chooses the wrestler.
3 Count tries to sing but they are interrupted by Demon Norman Smiley.
Norman Smiley vs Shane Helmes.
Apparently Hulk Hogan called off camera and announced that he will make his return on Thunder (Thunder with something big again) to confront Lex Luger. The Package on Thunder too? What a stacked show. Norman is so over here. The crowd loves him, and as I said he also pulls off the Demon look very well. Norman Conquest for the submission win. The actual Demon comes out with the cops. Norman escapes through the crowd. I still say Demon could have been a cool spooky character in WCW and they just butchered the angle.
Mean Gene interviews Diamond Dallas Page and Kimberly. Disco walks by and Kim says he grabbed her butt. Disco says he didn’t, but also calls her a dumb bimbo. Well, even if DDP can forgive another man grabbing his wife’s ass (I mean, I think he requests it but that’s a whole other story) he won’t forgive anyone calling her a bimbo. They start fighting, fight through the commercial break, and fight all the way to the ring. This is apparently now an official match. The crowd is popping off and Kim is popping out and looking great. Diamond Cutter for the win. The Mamalukes finally come out to check on Disco. Page leaves and celebrates through the crowd. Kim walks back down the aisle because fuck those fans.
In the back, Jarrett and the Harris Brothers walk. Sid walks. Funk walks. Everybody is walking today.
Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Brothers vs Terry Funk, Sid Vicious, and Ric Flair.
The fight starts in the aisle but Flair is nowhere to be seen. It’s a good fight but still a 3 on 2 fight. The referee finally gets control in the ring just in time for Funk to take the beating for his team. Funk stumbles to make the hot tag. Flair finally comes out just to attack Funk. Security drags Flair away. Sid powerbombs one of the brothers. The referee checks on Funk. Jarrett hits Sid with a guitar and Jarrett pins Sid. Jeff Jarrett has pinned the World champion.
It wasn’t a bad show overall, but there’s just so much filler on here. Raw had filler this evening too but this is peak Dudleys vs Hardys vs Edge and Christian. Plus an early “give Divas a chance” moment in which Harvina defeats the Kat for the WWF Women’s title. Two icons of women’s wrestling. If anything, watching this one episode makes things confusing. Maybe some of this stuff would have played better while I was watching each episode every week.